Here’s a lovely dish for one of the world’s favorite species to eat, the sea bass. The following recipe has two parts and serves four.
INGREDIENTS (Part I):
4 sea bass fillets, 6 ounces each, cut ½-inch thick
¼ cup heavy cream
1 TBSP seasoning spice mix
¼- to ½ cup all-purpose flour
* First, you will want to portion out the fillets by slicing the fish ½-inch thick or, I should say, thin. This will help ensure that the fish cooks quickly and evenly when in the pan.
* Crack open the eggs in a mixing bowl and add the cream, seasoning mix and whip until everything is married together. You then can start with a ¼ cup of all-purpose flour to make your batter. You don’t want the batter to be too thin or it may not adhere well to the fish -- and if it is too thick from too much flour, the fish will have a doughy coating after cooking. I prefer making this batter over dredging in flour and then egg to make the cooking process easier by only having to coat the fish once instead of dredging in flour then in egg.
* When the batter is done, hold it in the fridge with the fish. Next, you will prepare the vegetable and white bean mix to serve under the fish.
INGREDIENTS (For the white bean/vegetable mix):
2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup peeled red pearl onions
6 ounces sliced mushrooms
¼ cup marinated artichoke hearts, cut in quarters, save some liquid
¼ cup marinated sun dried tomatoes, julienne cut
8 pieces cured, pitted olives (you can find these in specialty stores)
½ pint baby red and yellow pear tomatoes
1 can (14 oz.) white cannellini beans
½ cup chicken stock
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
¼ cup brined capers, drained
4 ounces sweet butter, cut into smaller pieces
2 TBSP chopped Italian parsley and chives
Kosher salt & fresh ground pepper
* Most of the work in making this is in the time to gather everything together. Otherwise, it is very easy.
* Take a large pan and heat up the olive oil. Once it begins to get warm, add the red pearl onions and sliced mushrooms. After a few minutes – once the mix begins to wilt from cooking -- add the artichoke hearts (with some marinating liquid), sun dried tomatoes, olives, red-yellow pear tomatoes and simmer on medium heat for a good 10 minutes.
* Everything at this point should be soft and simmering well together. At this point you can add the cannellini beans, chicken sock, lemon juice and capers. Let the mix simmer for five minutes, then add the butter a few pieces at a time while gently stirring. This will give the butter a chance to emulsify on and around the vegetables.
* Add the parsley and chives at the end so they keep their vibrant color. Taste for seasoning and adjust as you see fit.
* Keep this mix on the side, as you now need to cook your fresh-caught (or bought) sea bass.
* Heat up a large, non-stick pan with a ¼-inch of whatever oil you like to cook with. Peanut or canola oil is fine for me.
* You will need to pull out your portioned fillets and also give a stir to your egg batter to check that the consistency is right. Sometimes the flour you have added will absorb more cream and egg than you wanted, so you can simply drizzle in a little bit of water to loosen the batter up.
* The oil should now be fairly hot (not smoking hot or this will burn) and you can now dip the sea bass fillet in the egg batter and smack the fillet on both sides of the bowl to remove any excess batter. Gently lay all four coated fillets in the pan and pan fry each side for 3 minutes or so. You do not want the pan to get too hot or it will burn. You are working to get a perfectly browned and crisped-up coating before you flip over the fish.
* Turn the fish over to cook the other side for another 3 minutes. Since you have thin slices, the fish will cook evenly and quickly.
* Prepare your four plates and spoon out the bean and vegetable mix, top with a sea bass fillet and I like to drizzle some of the pan sauce on the fish and then serve.
About the Chef — Steve Black attended Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island, and began his hotel career at the Sheraton Boston Hotel & Towers in 1984. In 1990, Chef Black traveled abroad to Strasbourg, France, where he had the opportunity to work with several 5-Star Michelin Chefs. Returning to the U.S. in 1992, he moved to San Diego, California, and joined the culinary teams at the La Costa Resort & Spa and at the Hyatt La Jolla Aventine. In 1993, he became the Executive Chef at the Sheraton Hotel & Marina on Harbor Island. During his off time, Steve fishes the offshore waters from San Clemente Island down to Ensenada and everywhere in between from his 25-foot Boston Whaler Revenge.